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Unionists want a ‘freeze’ of income tax bill

By Mohammad Ghazal - May 23,2018 - Last updated at May 23,2018

AMMAN — Heads of 30 associations and unions sent a letter to Prime Minister Hani Mulki on Wednesday, demanding a freeze of the income tax draft law.

“In the letter, we stressed that we were not part of the dialogue and the discussions that took place while drafting the income tax law, which we believe will increase burden on traders and citizens alike,” Khalil Haj Tawfiq, president of the Foodstuff Traders Association, told The Jordan Times on Wednesday.

Haj Tawfiq, also head of an under-establishment association that groups 30 associations and unions in various economic sectors, said there should have been a dialogue with representatives of various industries and professions.

The draft law was endorsed by the government on Monday and sent to the Lower House the following day.

The unionists called for a nationwide dialogue to come up with a consensus about the draft law with a view to protect the poor and the middle class and encourage investments, he said on Wednesday.

The government had posted the draft of the law online and called on all to give their feedback. Officials concerned with the law told reporters this week that a considerable part of the feedback was taken into account when changes to the first draft were made. 

The law is designed to increase revenues from the income tax by expanding taxpayers’ base, toughen penalties on tax evasion and improve collection. 

The unionists, according to Haj Tawfiq , reject the principle of adding taxes.

“All economic sectors of commerce, industry, agriculture, services and others are witnessing challenges and cannot take additional burdens,” he added.

“It is important that the law combats tax evasion, but it is very important also for the law to not result in negative consequences and place burden on the poor and the middle class segment in the society,” he added.

A copy of the letter was also sent to the Lower House, urging MPs not to endorse the law, he said.

The proposed law is expected to be debated by the House after Ramadan during an extraordinary session, pending a decree by the King. 

On Monday, the government endorsed the income tax draft law and said it was scheduled to be referred to the Lower House this week.

The government said the bill was put up for public debate for weeks and feedback was taken into account.

The government has already made adjustments to the sales tax and subsidy system, an unpopular move officials have stressed is vital to salvage an economy that has been struggling amid regional instability, a huge refugee influx and dwindling international support. 

The income tax draft law mainly focuses on three aspects: improving tax collection, curbing tax evasion and boosting tax revenues, which are expected to increase by JD300 million annually.

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